Robots of the Future
The year is 2017. When we think of robots, we think of oddly-shaped machines that roam aimlessly and make noises similar to those of a dial-up service connecting to the internet (or at least that’s what I think of). We find it hard to believe that robots will one day walk among us, live with us, and do our jobs for us. This is, however, the inevitable and fast-approaching reality. Physicist Stephen Hawking predicts that within the next 100 years, artificial intelligence will overtake humans.
When you think about it, we interact with artificial intelligence every day. Self-checkout machines have been around since the 90s, and Apple’s Siri came out in 2011. More recent inventions like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home push us even further towards the robotic future. But all of these ground-breaking inventions lack one important aspect of a stereotypical robot: a human-like form. A robot with a human-like form can walk and carry out both activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). ADLs include things like walking, feeding, and getting dressed. IADLs include more advanced cognitive tasks such as managing finances, cooking, driving, and housework.
Robots in the Year 2035
You probably remember the ambitious 2004 movie I, Robot starring Will Smith. The movie is set in 2035, and Smith plays a skeptic cop who investigates the link between an alleged suicide and a robot named Sonny. Although robots in this movie are programmed to never harm a human being, Smith believes that Sonny somehow violated this robotic law. This could lead to other robots following in Sonny’s footprints. A robotic catastrophe looms over a world of humans now dependent on the services that robots provide.
In I, Robot, robots live with humans and obey their every command. They provide valuable help in the home as well as services in public settings. This is a unique trait of a human-shaped robot. Today’s Alexa and Siri can follow simple electronic commands, but they do not have a human-like body to perform all ADLs and IADLs. In the future, we will have Alexa and Siri-like robots with human forms that can complete, or help a human to complete, both ADLs and IADLs.
Today, I see robots in our everyday lives: phones, laptops, cars, and personal assistant devices. The key to creating our robotic future is turning these devices into advanced human-like figures. Although we are still far from living in a world full of human-form AI, it is definitely going to happen. I am optimistic that the brilliant minds of today are creating the best possible robots for our future. I believe robots can drastically improve the efficiency of our workplaces. Let us hope, however, that a 2035 I, Robot scenario never comes to fruition!